Imágenes de páginas

India climate); but to our great disappointment, we were informed there was no place of that description in the town. In this unpleasant situation we began to despair of even procuring a lodging for the night, when Lieut. Y-- fortunately recollected having been, on a former occasion, introduced to Doctor de Briton, the resident physician at Great Bay, to whose house he conducted us as an only resource. The Doctor was from home, but our friend's easy manner, and good address, soon secured to us every comfort we could desire. Next morning we were so fortunate as to meet with Mr. Cuthbert, the principal planter in the town, and uncle to our supercargo, Mr. Ritchie. Having spent the remainder of the day with this gentleman, we in the afternoon set out for Marygott, accompanied by Mr. Cromoni, proprietor of the lottery estate, who kindly insisted on our remaining at his house during our stay on the island.

I had now the opportunity afforded me of witnessing the richest production of an highly-cultivated West India estate, at the


period of the year most interesting in this climate. The appearance of the sugarcane was extremely beautiful, exhibiting in different fields its progress through the various stages of vegetation; nor I less gratified on observing the mode of extracting the juice, and reducing it to the state of crystallization, in which it is seen in Europe: but the process is so familiarly known as to render a minute description altogether superfluous. The situation of Mr. Cromoni's estate was truly picturesque'; and slavery, so abhorrent to nature and humanity, appeared here to possess but a nominal existence. The

general aspect of the negroes sufficiently evinced their happiness and comfort, and how anxious their kind master was to lighten the weight of their chains: nor were the slaves ungrateful for the humane treatment they thus experienced; on the contrary, manifesting in every act and proceeding the warmest, and, I am confident, most unfeigned attachment for their generous proprietor. The sincerity of their regard was indeed unequivocally proved, by the joy with which these poor creatures hailed their master's return, after an absence from the estate of only two or three days: the negroes on our approach running towards Mr. C. from various directions, and, thronging round his horse, rivalled each other in expressing the warmth of their congratulations; whilst their master no less gratified with these interesting demonstrations of regard, encouraged their familiarity by the affability and kindness of his demeanour.

But similar principles of humanity and feeling, I fear, rarely influence the conduct of West India planters; the great proportion of whom, so far as I could observe, treated their negroes in the most unfeeling manner, seeming very little solicitous for either their happiness or welfare-the appearance of these people in general betrayed the wretchedness of their situation, and the cruelty of their treatment.

The state of this unhappy and degraded race excites in the humane mind the most painful sensations; and however powerful some individuals in England may consider arguments drawn from expediency and selfinterest, a visit to the West Indies would probably induce the greater proportion of even the warmest advocates of the slave trade, to retract their sentiments, and unite in detestation of this barbarous and unnatural traffic.

The negroes in this island, and the West Indies in general, principally subsist on fish, of which the surrounding seas possess a most astonishing quantity and variety. In this latter respect, however, selection is absolutely necessary, as a great proportion is unwholesome, and many species even poisonous in their nature. The natives from experience are generally enabled to separate the fish fit for use, from that of a deleterious quality; and, accordingly, on drawing up their nets, select those of the former description, and restore the others to their liberty. But, whenever they secure fish with which they are unacquainted they bring them ashore, and decide upon their future estimation by exposing them to the ants, upon (as I am assured) a wellgrounded conviction, that these insects will abstain from feeding upon any of a poisonous property. I have, likewise, frequently seen them determine on the quality of doubtful fish, by placing a silver spoon in the body, and leaving it there during the process of boiling; under an idea that in the event of the fish being of a dangerous kind, the metal will assume a dark tinge. How far this experiment is to be depended on, I cannot form any opinion; it is, however, generally considered effectual. Nothing can be imagined more beautiful than the colours of the West Indian fish; surpassing in brilliancy even the most gaudy of the feathered tribe.

Mr. Cromoni's estate is bounded on the South by a very lofty hill, called the Paradise, from whose summit issues a small stream, which flowing down the side, falls at the base into a deep and rocky ravine, where the rivulet forms a cool and refreshing bath, completely overshadowed by orange, banana, and chaddock trees, at this time in heavy bearing. Here Mr. Cromoni frequently retires to shelter himself from the overpowering effects of the noon-day sun,

« AnteriorContinuar »